Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins has built his Hall-of-Fame career on sacking quarterbacks. This year he has also put heat on COVID-19 as part of his community endeavors that earned him the Bengals nomination for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.
Back in the spring when he and his wife Kristen saw a news report that documented the hardships of the pandemic, Atkins said it, "Tugged at our hearts imagining hard working people now also worrying about what their families are going to eat. We knew we had to help our local community."
They responded by donating $100,000 to Cincinnati's Freestore Foodbank to generate 300,000 meals for needy children and families. They re-doubled their efforts in the crisis with the third annual "Atkins Week of Giving" during Thanksgiving week by honoring hundreds of frontline employees, educators, grocery store, restaurant, and other essential workers.
They had more than 60 meals delivered on Thanksgiving morning to families with a sick person unable to leave their homes due to the COVID-19 crisis. The Atkins family also had other Thanksgiving surprises, such as providing four families at Cincinnati Children's Hospital with life-changing resources.
Atkins, 32, who has the most Pro Bowls of any Bengals defensive player in history with eight, also serves as an ambassador for the American Diabetes Association and participated in the group's Team Tackle initiative. He has visited Capitol Hill twice to meet with members of Congress to discuss the challenges of diabetes.
Down through his 11 seasons in Cincinnati Atkins has also been an avid supporter of anti-human trafficking efforts, faith-based organizations, shelters, job training services and youth sports performance programs.